for Oluwatoyin Salau, for Breonna Taylor, for Cyntoia Brown, for Tameka Drummer, for Anjanette Young, for all of us whose names I wish had first floated from my lips on wings of joy, instead of…
…girl, too umber for proper / amber alert.
…girl / silver bit in a palmful of pennies / Black girl,
…girl, blowing grams / of bottled breath between the weeds
…girl: one piece / of pie don’t have to be enough / Black girl.
Ariana Benson (she/they) is proudly from Chesapeake, Virginia. She received the 2021 Graybeal-Gowen prize and was a finalist for the 2020 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize and the 2021 Pink Poetry Prize. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Obsidian, West Branch, Shenandoah, Great River Review, ANOMALY, Lunch Ticket, Southern Humanities Review and Auburn Avenue, where she serves as Nonfiction Editor, among others. Ariana’s work often interrogates language, visual art, environmental concerns, and the connection between African Diasporic peoples and the natural landscape. Through her writing, she strives to fashion vignettes of Blackness that speak to its infinite depth and richness. Ariana enjoys watching sports, reading the entire plots of anime series on Wiki, and playing easy, relaxing video games (think Animal Crossing and Spiritfarer).
The featured image is Untitled [three women learning to be nurses at the Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth in Bordentown, New Jersey] by Lewis Wickes Hine (ca. 1935), selected and manipulated specifically for Ariana’s poem by our Art Director, Meg Sykes.